JACKSON CENTER — When it comes to objects and ideas that represent America, it’s hard to beat a canoe, a campfire and an Airstream travel trailer.
A painting encompassing those has captured the first place prize in the second annual Airstream Fine Art Invitational exhibit, which runs through Saturday, June 3, on the Airstream campus, here.
Admission is free. The 23 paintings which comprise the exhibit are on display in the building behind 419 W. Pike St. Visitors should use Door 15. Hours are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Joseph McGurl, of Cataumet, Massachusetts, created the oil painting that earned top honors from judge James H. Nottage, vice president and chief curatorial officer of the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art in Indianapolis, and a $1,000 prize from Airstream.
“The quality of his attention,” is what impressed Nottage, he said in discussing McGurl’s work. “The composition is really pleasing. The use of light and shadow in contrast to each other, the reflection on the trailer and boat, the basic arrangement of each of the components — it’s a beautiful, very pleasing painting that’s been executed in a sophisticated way.”
McGurl “is a devoted plein air (outdoors, onsite) painter, which allows him to connect with the landscape on a profound level and gain a deep understanding of his subject,” says the show’s program. “His interest in modern physics and the nature of reality combined with the spirituality he finds in nature has resulted in a thoroughly modern approach to style and subject.”
“You Can Never Have Too Much Aluminum” is a picture of canoers sitting by a campfire at sunset, along the shore of a mountain lake. An Airstream trailer grabs the light and puts the people into silhouette as their beached canoe completes a triangle of focus, framed by trees in the foreground on the left and the rising smoke of the campfire on the right. American ideas are subtly present, too. Their chosen stopping place is backed by beautiful spacious skies painted in amber waves that give way to majesties of purple mountains softly fading into into the coming dusk. The scene evokes a sense of well-being, fulfillment, serenity, safety and the grace of a summer night’s embrace.
Nottage gave the $500 second-place award to another painting of a nocturnal campsite: Steven Walker’s “Streaming at Dusk.”
Show-goers will have the opportunity to vote for their favorites. The painting with the most votes will win a $250 People’s Choice prize.
The theme of the 2017 show is “Americana.” According to Brittany Fullenkamp, Airstream marketing coordinator, organizers invited 50 artists to represent the theme in paintings of “objects and ideas that represent America.” Twenty-three responded.
“It’s a smallish show but my impression is that it’s pretty strong,” Nottage said. “It’s a show with artistic merit.” He said that there was nothing about the exhibit that surprised him.
“What pleased me was just the overall quality. That’s a reflection on the artists and and the people who put the show together,” he said.
Organizers were members of the Airstream marketing department. They kept names of artists who had participated in last year’s inaugural event, those who expressed interest in the show and others who had been recommended to them. They also consulted recently published art journals to create the invitation list.
“I would hope the show continues,” Nottage said. “This presence of art in our communities is good for our communities. Art in our lives is a good part of quality of life.”
Other featured artists are Scott Lloyd Anderson, Wendy Brayton, Tom Brown, John Cogan, Brent Cotton, Kevin Courter, Jon Francis, Gary Frisk, Mark Gingerich, Carolyn Hesse-Low, Tim Horn, Neal Hughes, Elizabeth Jose, Dan Knepper, Don Lake, Christopher Leeper, Doug Morgan, Kathie Odom, Patrick Saunders, Michael Scott and James Toogood.
Artists who are members of the Western Ohio Watercolor Society will have a paint-out in Jackson Center, Saturday. They will be setting up easels to work onsite throughout the village in the midst of the Community Days festival.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.